Will we charge for more legroom too?

If you’ve been reading for a while then you know that I watch the airline industry pretty closely, as they are often prognosticators of things to come in our industry (and in all perishable inventory industries, actually).

They, like the theater, the restaurant industry, etc., are very high risk, face high labor costs, etc. so they have to constantly reinvent their ways to earn revenue.

They were the first with email discounts . . . they were the first with premium seats (first class) . . . they were the first with variable pricing (my new favorite – “only 1 seat left at this price”), etc.

So, when I read this article on CNN the other day, I had to wonder if the theory would eventually spill over to our biz.

You’ve all seen the newfangled “premium economy” or “more legroom” seats on flights, right?  You pay maybe $79 or $99 more and get some more room to stretch your legs, and maybe another perk or two.  It’s for the folks who want a little more comfort, but don’t want first class.

Well, apparently, a couple of airlines are doing so well with this concept that they are adding more legroom seats . . . and get this . . . shrinking the legroom of the rest of the seats!  (The 1% wins again.)

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve opted in for the “more legroom” seats a few times, especially on red-eyes.

Which made me think . . . would people pay for them in the theater?  We already have some successful test cases of people paying more for aisle seats.  But what if we had a couple of rows that were roomier than others?  Would people pay?  Would we sell more premium seats?

It would take an adventurous theater owner to incur the labor costs to remove and readjust the seating to give it a go, knowing that they’d probably lose a row of seats in the back as well.

Would it work?  Not sure.  And just like on airlines, some folks would probably end up getting it for free (which is how I ended up in a “more legroom” seat the first time).

Of course, now I buy one whenever I can, so . . .


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.